March 2016

Man who sexually assaulted girl (15) after meeting her on bereavement website avoids jail

A young woman has warned of the potential dangers of meeting people online after a man she believed groomed her on a bereavement website avoided a prison sentence.

The 21-year old was speaking after Jonathan Fawcett – who travelled from England to Northern Ireland to meet and have sex with her on two separate weekends when she was 15 – was placed on probation for three years.

The pair met on a suicide support website as they had both lost a loved one.

Contact between the two first occurred in 2008 when the girl was 14, and in 2009 Fawcett – who used the name ‘Fallen Angel Jon’ – sent her a private message inviting her into a chatroom.

Shortly after, the pair began communicating via MSN and the messages started to become sexual.

When the contact between the two first started, Fawcett was 19 and aware he was messaging a 14-year old girl.

Fawcett then travelled from his home on Manley Road in the Lichfield area of Staffordshire and booked into a Co Antrim B&B in May 2009 and again in July of that year. On both occasions, he engaged in sexual activity with the then 15-year old girl.

Fawcett, who has autism and who is now 26, admitted 18 counts of sexual assaulting the teenage girl, and was placed on three years probation at Belfast Crown Court today after a judge said he was taking into account his condition.

Citing the case as “exceptional”, Judge Gordon Kerr said various reports compiled on Fawcett suggested that if he was jailed he presented a high risk of suicide. The Judge also spoke of “ongoing treatment” that Fawcett is undergoing in England, adding probation would allow him to continue with that work.

Speaking after Fawcett was placed on probation, the young woman said: “That’s not enough for what he did to me. He has ruined these last seven years of my life and I now suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, anxiety and depression.”

“I also feel the fact that he has autism was used as an excuse for what he has done. They made such a big deal of his autism in court – but he was able to book flights on his own, he was able to book accommodation on his own and he travelled from England on his own.

“He was able to do all these things but apparently he is not able to leave his own house because of his autism.”

“He groomed me, he did what he did to me over those two weekends and he didn’t spend a day in prison for it.

“I think he should at least have experienced what it was like in prison. I honestly feel like he has got away with this.”

Whilst sentencing Fawcett, Judge Kerr spoke of the vulnerability of the teenage  girl, adding Fawcett “took full advantage of that fact.”

The victim said: “I definitely feel he groomed me, and after the first time he came over I felt he manipulated me into meeting him again because he threatened to tell my family if I didn’t.”

She also said she hoped what happened to her would act as a warning to others of the potential dangers of meeting strangers online.

She said: “You need to be really careful about who you talk to and how you can trust online. You really don’t know who they really are, so please be very careful.”

During a previous hearing, Crown prosecutor Kate McKay said Fawcett “tapped into the girl’s vulnerable and emotional fragility”.

On both of the weekends that Fawcett came over from England, the pair engaged in several sexual acts including intercourse. Mrs McKay told the court that afterwards the girl “felt like she had been treated like a sexual object.”

Mrs McKay also revealed that on the second occasion, she felt Fawcett was “more assertive.”

She didn’t tell anyone what happened until she went to the police at the end of 2012, and has still not told her family.

When Fawcett was first spoken to in June 2013, he admitted he knew the girl was 14 when they both met. He also told police they were in a relationship and admitted “a majority of the sexual contact.”

Fawcett admitted filming them on one occasion which he said he deleted, but denied being assertive with her.

Mrs McKay said it was the Crown’s case that despite pleading guilty Fawcett has tried to minimise his culpability.